Top Chef Recap: Getting Warmer …

Paul get steamy.
Paul get steamy. Photo: Bravo

Things are finally winding down, and we’ve made it to the penultimate episode, unless, of course, next week’s twist is that the never-watched web series “Last Chance Kitchen” is secretly still going on and even more chefs will be brought back. Remember that guy that Tom kicked off, like, one minute into the first episode because he couldn’t butcher meat correctly? He’s probably just been biding his time.

Last night’s episode kicked off in Vancouver’s Chinatown, and Sarah immediately expressed relief that Beverly had been kicked off. Was Sarah giving Beverly a backhanded compliment? Next thing you know, the Republican presidential candidates will start talking crazy talk about how grown women should be able to make their own decisions about what they do with their lives and bodies.

Top Chef Masters got a plug this week: Former Masters contestants Anita Lo, Floyd Cardoz, and Takashi Yagihashi walked in with Padma and Emeril to greet the chefs. All the chefs paired up — Lindsay with Anita, Sarah with Floyd, Paul with Yagihashi — and the teams got 40 minutes to make an Asian-inspired dish, swapping out places in the kitchen with their teammates every ten minutes.

First of all: Thank you, Top Chef, for recognizing that “Asian” does not necessarily mean Chinese or Japanese food. Second: Can we keep these Masters chefs for the finale? They made dishes we’d want to try and had nice personalities that made them interesting to watch. In the end, the judges liked all the dishes, obviously, since the big-name chefs made them, but gave the win to Sarah. She scored $20K, even though all the thanks really goes to Floyd. Come back, Floyd!

As everyone who watches Top Chef knows, when a Quickfire involves straightforward cooking, the elimination challenge will be gimmicky. And this week’s episode was not the exception to the rule. Each chef had to create a dish and a cocktail for 150 guests at the Fire and Ice cocktail party, and each dish had to have both a hot and cold element. “It’s so wide open to interpretation that it’s going to be difficult,” complained Lindsay, not realizing that this also meant she could make basically anything she wanted, which to sounds easier to us. Lindsay then went on to explain that she’d be making halibut and, no joke, started complaining about the Restaurant Wars episode again. Girl. You made it to the final three and Beverly did not and that was like a hundred episodes ago, so let’s just all get on with our lives.

Prep time: Sarah proclaimed her love of egg yolks, Paul sliced lobsters in half while they were still crawling around, and Lindsay mentioned that she kept accidentally grating her knuckles into her tomatoes. We’re not sure if grated knuckle-skin is a “hot” element or a “cold” element, but we bet everyone present at the taping wanted to throw up when they heard that. Sarah also took the time to let us know that an anti-griddle gets very cold instead of very hot, but failed to mention that grass is green and that water is wet.

Apparently the actual Fire and Ice shindig involved mostly ice, because everyone looked very cold. Padma made some sort of joke — possibly about cold weather being not-great for one’s enjoyment of food and drink — but Bravo HD, as it has all season, cut out for a bit. You would think that since Bravo employees live in New York, and presumably subscribe to the same cable company as all other New Yorkers, the network would want to correct this constant issue. We bet this doesn’t happen to the Real Housewives recappers!

Anyway, Paul made a crab-and-lobster soup with lemon snow along with a Pan Am–inspired cocktail with foam; Sarah made five-greens-stuffed cannelloni with spiced sformato, and a gin and kumquat cocktail; and Lindsay made halibut with fiery celery-root salad and tomato ice, plus a spicy bloody Mary-esque cocktail. Paul’s cocktail played well with his dish, but his hot and cold elements melted together into a single lukewarm soup. Sarah’s pasta was a hit with everyone, but her sformato never melted down into the sauce as it was supposed to, and her cocktail didn’t quite pair with the dish. Lindsay’s halibut was cooked well and everyone loved the tomato ice, but it was inconsistent in the spicing and her cocktail wasn’t very good.

Despite seeming like she screwed up the biggest, Sarah won a spot in the finale. Paul took the win for the episode, scoring the other place in the finale and a trip to Costa Rica — possibly to pick coffee; that part was unclear — which meant Lindsay was sent home to talk about restaurant wars with her own family.

Next week: Old chefs come back! Their families come, too! Sarah’s fish has bones in it! The food is the best ever, which is what the judges say every finale! THE LAST EPISODE OF THE SEASON. LET’S DO A HAPPY DANCE!

Top Chef Recap: Getting Warmer …